In the lead up to the Fall 2021 semester, the College set policies reflecting the optimism associated with the widespread (and required) vaccination of the campus community. Around 98 percent of the campus community was anticipated to be vaccinated, according to an Aug. 11 email from Dean Karlene Burrell-McRae `94.
Over the summer, vaccinated individuals were not required to wear masks indoors or outdoors (except on the shuttle or jitney) and did not need to be tested. More visitors were allowed on campus, including to visit the Museum of Art, attend admissions tours, and use the College’s outdoor spaces.
In her Aug. 11 email, Burrell-McRae shared that the mask-wearing requirement from the 2020-2021 school year would not continue and that students, faculty, and staff would only be tested from their arrival until Sept. 12.
However, the College has since tightened those relaxed policies, perhaps because of the spread of the delta variant throughout the summer, which can cause breakthrough COVID-19 cases even in vaccinated people. An update from President David Greene on Aug. 27 reimposed mask wearing through Sept. 12, which was then extended for another week along with testing.
The mask mandate and testing were then extended indefinitely a week later. Homecoming weekend was also shifted to be informal, with very few outdoor events held for visitors.
There have been 37 positive cases so far this semester, 15 of which are currently active and 22 of which have recovered. 27 cases have been students and ten have been faculty and staff.
According to the New York Times Coronavirus tracker, the amount of cases in Kennebec County has stayed consistently very high. Hospitalizations increased 52% over the past two weeks while deaths are remain about the same (five in the past two weeks).
~ Sonia Lachter `22